Sunday, November 16, 2008


The marathon that I wasn't going to run turned out to be my best!

Today I SUPPOSED to do a 22 mile training run and was going to use the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon to do it. My plan was to run 22 miles at 8 min/mile pace and then walk through the hills and cool-down. That was the plan, it really was. That plan last right up until mile 21 of the marathon, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

My buddy (who is training for Dallas and a BQ) got together to carpool up to Tulsa for this race. I had done the 1/2 last year and had a good time and enjoyed the race so I wanted to do it again this year. If you remember my posts from a week or two ago I had originally planned to run the 1/2 again this year because I was burnt out and really tired from the 5 other marathons I'd done this year. And if you remember my post from about 1 week ago I changed my mind and decided to run the full marathon as a training run. See a pattern here???? 

So we got up early and headed over to Tulsa today and it was COLD with a capital COLD! I think it was in the 30's when we started driving. Luckily there was little wind (weird in Oklahoma) which made it somewhat bearable once the sun came up. 

Once the race started, my buddy and I fell into a nice 8 min pace and were having a pretty good time. We were just behind the 3:30 pace group. The course follows the river for what seems like forever but it is a pretty scene with lots of trees and houses so it's not mundane. We were easily keeping the pace and eventually caught the 3:30 pace group which was a nice help breaking the little bit of southern wind. 

I didn't notice at the time but the majority of the course was on concrete. I would notice later. 

We ran by Oral Roberts University which is very near a casino which I found very funny but then again I'm weird like that. Once past that little comic relief, around mile 9, we turned and crossed the river into Jenks OK. This was the site of the 1/2 I ran 2 weeks ago. We ran around Jenks until mile 13 and then crossed back over the river and hit the same river road we had run down on. My buddy had told me he was going to run some BQ race pace starting at mile 14 so he left me and took off at  a 7 sub 7:30 pace. Willie was VERY content to maintain the 8's we'd been running. In fact, Willie was wondering how much long he could actually keep up this pace. I honestly thought I would hit the wall at mile 17-19. 

I had staggered my E-Gel's every 6 miles. This worked great. In previous marathons I had gone every 8 miles and always felt drained by mile 20. This new strategy forced me to carry more E-Gels but I figured it was a training run and I could experiment a little. 

So I was coming down the river road and my thighs really began to burn. I tried to change my stride and loosen them up and it just kept getting worse. Every step began to hurt. It's hard to describe but it felt like I was pounding on my legs with a hammer every step. I put this pain out of my mind and continued. I was feeling good and had plenty of energy but my legs! Oh they were burning! 

I made it to mile 18 and the 3:30 pace group finally caught me. I'd been ahead of them since the bridge and wanted to keep them there because it was giving me a mental boost knowing I was ahead of the pace. When they past me I heard them talking about the concrete and the pain they were having in their thighs. Hmmm, at least I wasn't the only one. I really didn't think it was the concrete because I've never bought into that theory that asphalt is softer than concrete for runners. Sounded like an excuse to me. 

So they past me but I was still keeping very near an 8 min/mile pace. I don't know what they were up to but they were much faster than 8. At mile 20 I started having thoughts of NOT stopping at mile 22. The rationale for that thought was weird. I requested a quick damage report from my body. My upper body and arms reported in fine, my strength reported in exceptional. My legs, however, reported severe damage to the left thigh and a worsening pain in the left knee. My upper left thigh, which is already injured, also gave a very unfavorable report. 

Interestingly my left butt cheek didn't report. It had gone numb at some point! I've NEVER had this happen before. This caused me to actually reach around and feel it to make sure it was still there. I'm glad there were no cameras around while I was rubbing my ass at mile 21. It was really weird but I didn't know what to do about it and it wasn't causing me any problems so I let it sleep. This may be a new strategy for me. Put as many body parts to sleep as possible! 

My left big toe was also numb. It would eventually start hurting really bad and I'm afraid it could be broke. It didn't bother me much but it was another pain that I had to deal with.

So here's my rationale for continuing: I'm hurt, I could be really hurt. I've run a great race up to this point. If I continue at this pace which I think I can, I'll PR and possibly break 3:30 which would be fabulous! If that happens I'll be OK with the injuries because I've ended my year on a high note with a great PR. If I stop at 22 like I planned, I may not heal in time for Dallas and could end up really low. All this ended with the thought, SCREW IT WILLIE, GO FOR IT! You may not get this chance again. (That's my little devil Willie that I try to control but who gets the better of me more than I care to admit.)

So I pushed through 21 miles. One problem literally arouse after this however. Hills.  Mile 22 begins the hills in Tulsa. I knew this. I'd run these same hills last year in the 1/2. I'd been told about them a million times all week long. Everyone hates these hills! If you ask me how I could have forgotten about them then you don't know me well enough. There are no limits to Willie's ability to forget things. I believe my memory is kept in my hair which is falling out daily.

So I hit these hills and my pace fell off. I wasn't catching my mile paces as Garmin yelled them out to me but when I did glance down at my beloved now and again she wasn't showing a good pace at all. On the biggest hill I noticed a 10:10 pace. I comforted myself with the fact that I was still running! Most people around me were walking. Good Willie.

So I caught my buddy sometime around mile 23 and informed him of my decision to keep going. He encouraged me but kept on walking. He did eventually catch up to me and said he'd run with me awhile. I really needed it. I was struggling with the pain. It was a new type of pain for me. Normally I get really tired and just want to stop. Today I wasn't tired at all but every step was shooting pain up each leg. I didn't want to stop and never felt the need to. In fact I really wanted to run faster so I could get to the finish line and stop completely! 

I met a new friend who lives here in Edmond. He introduced himself at mile 25. I told him I was on a PR pace. When I told him my previous PR was 3:39 he was very encouraging and told me I at least had a PR. Then he asked me how many marathons this was for me. I said, 6... this year. His response, "Got a little OCD do we Willie?" I laughed very hard. I told him I just like marathons and that yes, I do have a problem but it's a good one. 

My buddy dropped off again to walk and my new friend pulled me through that last mile. I'm very grateful to him because I would never have run that fast without him. We finished in 3:32:50 by the clock. My legs were shot. I stumbled around and found it very hard to walk. I made it over to the chip takers and put my foot out for them. After a minute I noticed they still hadn't taken my chip. That's when I noticed I had given them the wrong foot. They were very nice and asked if I need help. I said yes but not that kind of help. 

I stumbled over and got my medal. I also stumbled over to a camera guy. I had just run a 7 minute PR and by God I was going to get my picture taken!

After that I found the beer tent. {insert blurry memory here}

Afterwards my buddy, who's a physical therapist, told me all about how bad the Tulsa concrete is on legs. I guess there are some people in our club that won't run Tulsa just because of the concrete and the pounding it puts on your legs. I'm a believer! I haven't surveyed all the damage but I know I'll need some extended recovery time. 

We hit a pizza place on the way home and then we all wanted ice cream so I splurged and got some Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. It was wonderful! 

So I've now run a 3:32:50. There was a time that I never, ever, ever thought I could run that. I'm still not sure I've come to terms with this. I still feel like I'm trying to break 4 hours! Does that make any sense at all? I feel a little like I'm only acting at this new pace. I'm waiting for someone to come along and say, "Ok it's over, it never really happened." I don't know, maybe I'm still loopy from the run. I had a really great day today, really great.

Thanks for listening.


Southbay Girl said...

I couldn't run that fast in my dreams let alone awake...and you ran it with shooting pains in your legs??? WTF? You are a runner-I am a mere jogger....

Maryland Girl said...

You Rock! I with Southbay - I don't run I jog. I suffer with numb feet all the time - left over from an illness. You can keep moving suprisingly! LOL

Calyx Meredith said...

Man oh man that's awesome! Yay for the PR! You are at your best when you're spontaneous. Take care of your legs after all that concrete. When you say things like "extended recovery time"? You know I'm not believing that part, right? :D